I think by now most people know my focus is on parents. So bear with me please. I started a discussion a month ago about web 2.0 tools and connecting with parents but I want to build on the recent issue about closing down a classroom blog in Australia. Numerous comments in the blog post supported the classroom teacher Al Upton for his innovation and leadership, Some comments cried where are the parents?

I believe that most parents are only comfortable with email and some with the use facebook. The piece for training for parents is missing. I'd like your help putting together the missing pieces. Can you share what you are doing now to educate parents in the use of Web 2.0 tools? Your success stories? How do you teach your parents the benefits of using the Internet in the classroom? How did you get them to support you when administrators were discouraging the use of classroom blogs. Monday April 14th at 9:00 PMEDT (GMT-4) at Parents as Partners at edtechtalk.com/live will welcome Steve Hargadon as he shares his insights. I would really like to add you comments to the show.

Your ideas please. Your examples so we can post them during the show.
Lorna

Tags: 2.0, Hargadon, Steve., as, blogging, classroom, edtechtalk, involvement, parent, parents, More…partners, tools, web

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I think I was invited because I uttered the phrase "most parents live an a Web 1.0 world." I certainly think that giving some understanding to parents about what Web 2.0 is will be critical to creating the programs at schools that we want. Not quite sure how to do that. They do all have email, and while my kids teachers have used email effectively with me and my wife to communicate one-way, there has not been much (if any) allowance for parent-to-parent dialog using that same email list as the forum. Seems to me that might be one way to start.

I remember last year there was an issue with serious drugs and maybe a gun at my daughter's junior high, and the school basically cut off all communication with the parents about it. All the students went to the center of the school while police searched all lockers. I have to say, the unwillingness of the principal in this situation to be open with the parents really changed my feelings about the school. I understand some of the legal and other complexities that might arise in this situation, but as a parent I felt very dis-empowered. I didn't know what to talk to my daughter about, or how to help her understand what happened. It was reported to me that the principal, when asked by a staff member about the situation, replied: "If we tell them what happened, they will only want to know more..." Duh!

I'm not saying that highly collaborative discussions with parents would always be easy, and I see some teachers being more comfortable or adept at it. But the tools that are becoming available now could really provide a positive platform for parental involvement. This is what I'd be interested in exploring. The engaged dialogs in a resource like Ning seem to produce such good ideas and discussion--wouldn't it be nice to find ways to involve parents in these? What if a school PTA were to create a Ning network. Wouldn't it be likely you'd get a whole body of parents to participate that hadn't before?

Thinking out loud...
I heard Tim Lauer, principal of Lewis Elementary in Portland, OR speak about how he's added RSS feeds to his school website and teaches parents how to subscribe to the school blog and classroom blogs and provides an option to join Google groups. He gives the first 10-15 minutes of the weekly faculty meeting to teachers to update their classroom blog sites. I think he is a forward thinking principal who models technology from the top.

School website: http://lewiselementary.org/
Tim's blog: http://timlauer.org/
Thanks Colette for the link. What a great idea. I will pass this information on.
It's interesting that you mention Facebook. I have a dog and pony show that I have done at my church and for some neighborhood moms on getting on Facebook. I have now been asked to do it at school for parents and I'm pulling some things together. The Washington Post had a recent article .about the appropriateness of parents trying to befriend their children.

I strongly encourage social networking among parents. Not to keep tabs on their kids, but to connect to each other and stay just a step behind their kids (if you fall 2 steps behind. . . )

That being said, I need to learn more about working with parents in this area. Putting RSS feeds on teacher sites is a great idea. I'll definitely be listening on Monday!
This article is so timely. Matt Montagne and I just started a facebook group. Parents as Partners. We are also in the middle of an interesting discussion at ourschool.ca Please join us
Loved the Washington Post article. Thanks so much for pointing it out!
We had reports of grumblings amongst our primary age school parents, that technology was not at all necessary for their young students. We had an information session at night time for parents, which was well attended. We demonstrated, using an IWBm our use of blogging, wikis and other web2.O tools, and at the end of it there was not one complaint, just sheer amazement, intense questioning and happy parents. I think information sessions with parents are a must. We also include a "techno corner" with IT updates in the weekly school newsletter. We showed parents how to add comments on their student work, which some are now doing. Some have even adopted students who do not have the internet at home. Involvement is also vital.
I think the idea below by Ann M. about demonstrating some of these things to parents is worthy -- but getting them to a live meeting sometimes is difficult... and if you piggy-tail on the back of another type of meeting, then, you get folks who get up and walk out.

We did a two-tier approach when we introduced teacher blogging. We created a flier that went home to families that was professionally done on "RSS by E-mail," and we also posted a webpage on how to use RSS. Now, on every blog, and every part of our website that has RSS, is a "What is RSS?" link.

When parents asked for a PTA website, we directed them to Google Groups... I can't tell you how many times each month I hear, either by phone, by e-mail, or by word of mouth, parents that are so happy we're using these tools to help them stay in touch with what's going on in their students' lives throughout the day.
Lorna-

We have been trying to figure out how to better involve parents in Web 2.0 and their kids' classroom activities. We created a solution called www.SchoolTown.net that provides parents with a view on their kids learning and allows them to participate constructively. I hope you like it.
I'm a little late for the show, but one thing that I really like that my district is doing is opening up the technology inservice classes to the community. http://www.kleinisd.net/default.aspx?name=iss.itc.comcls

Since my district is pushing a 1:1 iniative through bond elections, it's been vital for us to involve and educate the community. We have visitors at my school all the time. I think once they see what the students are doing with the technology, it's hard to deny the benefits.

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